First Minister Peter Robinson has claimed that a different judge may not have overturned the DUP health minister’s ban on gay men giving blood.
Questioned in the Assembly yesterday about Mr Justice Treacy’s High Court judgment delivered on Friday, Mr Robinson insisted that there was no “schism between the Executive and the High Court”.
And he warned that there are massive implications from the judgment, in which the judge said that Mr Poots had broken the ministerial code because the issue was a controversial one but he had not brought it to the Executive.
Mr Robinson said that no Executive minister had asked for the issue to be discussed there and said that ministers had a “general view” that “if we were to carry it to the level to which Mr Justice Treacy carried it, everything would come to the Executive. There would be no spending or individual decisions by ministers, and everything would have to come to the Executive”.
He added: “Before people start cheering from the rafters, they should think about the ramifications of the judgment.
“Under the basis of Mr Justice Treacy’s judgment, we would have to be dealing with every funding application...those are issues that we have left at a departmental level.”
He said that would be “a very considerable burden on the Executive” but stressed it would abide by the law.
He added: “Of course... the law is often open to interpretation. I suspect that another judge on another day might have given a different view on some of the issues that are in the Treacy judgment. Such is the legal system.”
Mr Poots told the Assembly that he may have “unwittingly” broken the rules but claimed other ministers, including the Sinn Fein education minister, could be equally culpable.
He also stressed there had been no ban on gay men giving blood, as it was based on “sexual practise, not orientation”.
NI21 leader Basil McCrea accused Mr Robinson of “trivialising” the High Court ruling while Sinn Fein called on him to drop the blood ban.